Tabije: Little-known facts about the Philippines-A A +A
Sunday, June 17, 2012
ANY place on earth has its publicly known side and its little-known side. Let me share with you some facts about the Philippines are largely not known. Here we go:
1. "Karaoke" (pronounced "khar-you-khe" by Westerners) is a Japanese word that means "singing without accompaniment" but it's not invented in Japan nor was it invented by a Japanese. It was invented in the Philippines by a Filipino named Roberto del Rosario.
2. What makes the Philippines the "text capital of the world?" Filipinos send out 350 to 400 million text messages per day -- more than that of the US and the whole of Europe combined! Gee!
3. Continental USA has a land mass that is around 30 times bigger than that of the Philippines. But its coast line of 19,924 miles is less than that of the Philippines, which has 36,289 miles. Naturally, our fisheries resources are more than that of the USA.
4. "Diaspora" means the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland. The Philippines has the biggest diaspora network in the world, with around 11 million Filipinos overseas (around 12 percent of the country's population).
5. The Philippines is the only country in the world that hoists its flag upside down when the country is at war. During peace time, the blue side is up but during war, the red side is up.
6. The Philippine Deep, near Surigao del Norte, has a depth of more than 35,000 feet. The world's tallest mountain, Mt. Everest, which has a height of around 30,000 feet, will drown fully if placed there. If any ship drops anchor there, it will need a really long cable.
7. The Filipinos were introduced to English not by Americans but by British invaders in 1762.
8. A Filipino named Antonio Miranda Rodriguez, co-founded Los Angeles, California in 1781, along with 43 Latinos from Mexico sent by the Spanish government.
9. There are 1,268 chocolate hills in Bohol.
Finally, here's a quote from LonelyPlanets.com, one of the biggest online travel websites in the world:
"Few countries in the world are so little known, so seldom visited, as the Philippines. Yet no other land is more pleasant than this richly endowed island kingdom. Hardly anywhere does the nature lover find a greater fill of boundless treasure."
My first reaction was, "how dare Lonely Planet say so. We see a lot of tourists around!"
Let's put things in perspective to those who are not familiar with tourism statistics. The annual tourist arrival in the Philippines is about 3.1 million. As DOT recently proudly proclaims, it is a huge increase over the previous years. That's all very well.
But start comparing with other countries and you will wince in envy and wonderment. The most popular destination is France with around 78 million, followed by the USA and Spain with about 57 million each. It may be argued that it's not right to compare our country with those top destinations as they are totally in different tourism categories.
Okay, let's try to compare with our Asian neighbors, who have similar tourist attractions as us: Malaysia has 22.0 million, Thailand has 14.5 million, Japan has 8.3 million, Singapore has 7.8 million, India has 5.4 million and even Vietnam, which has just recently risen from the ruins of decades-long wars, has already 4.3 million. To repeat, the Philippines has a paltry 3.1 million.
Clearly, the unflattering observation of Lonely Planet is accurate.
Perhaps the Department of Tourism can tell us how and why it has come to this. If it hasn't successfully sold such wonderful paradise to the world's tourists, it sure has a lot of explaining to do to the Filipino people. More importantly, it should tell us its grand vision of an innovative catch-up strategy. A rehash of the old ineffective strategies simply won't fly.
Engr. Tabije is an International Consultant whose clients include the UN, WB, EC, ADB and JICA. He is also the Publisher-Editor of the online management resource site, www.BestManagementArticles.com. Email comments to email@example.com.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 18, 2012.